Kicking a heroin addiction entails a nasty right of passage called withdrawal, a physiological kick in the ass driven by a physical craving that Dr. Eric Strain, an addiction specialist at Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center, describes as “fluid coming out of every orifice in your body except your ears.” Baltimore has a good number of people addicted to heroin and all sorts of other opiates, so it stands to reason that the city would harbor a good, cheap, accessible place to go to when you need a little help going through the process.
Enter the Center for Addictions Medicine, a privately owned detox clinic operating on the Maryland General Hospital campus and run by the compassionate and forward-thinking physician Dr. Michael Hayes. The clinic, under Hayes’ supervision, has been helping patients through the pain of detox since 1992 with an intensive seven-day program of controlled withdrawal. Using Buprenorphine, a recently approved medical substitute for methadone that curbs withdrawal symptoms, Hayes gradually weans heroin addicts of their physical dependence with daily doses of the medication and monitoring by physicians. For a fee of just $250, patients get seven days of outpatient care plus referral to addiction counseling, not to mention a fresh start sans the shakes, chills, and unsettling purges of heroin withdrawal.